Current Affairs

Retired general questions McCain’s military experience

Ross von Metzke July 1, 2008
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John McCain’s campaign has said it is “outraged” by remarks from retired General Wesley Clark that the Republican Presidential hopeful lacks command experience, chalking the attack up to “the lowest form of politics.”

Clark is the latest of several Democrats to attack McCain’s wartime record.

A military advisor to Senator Barack Obama, Clark pondered on Sunday whether McCain’s military record was a qualifier for being commander in chief.

“I think it’s kind of sad,” McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said Monday on CNN’s American Morning.

“I think all the promise that Barack Obama made about trying to change the political dynamic and run a different kind of campaign is evidenced by the fact that he’s completely changed his political strikes and become sort of a partisan hack.”

The McCain campaign immediately called on Obama to condemn Clark’s comments.

“Sending Wesley Clark out as a surrogate for your campaign and attacking John McCain and his war record and his military experience and his service is, I think, just the lowest form of politics,” Davis continued on the CNN political programme.

Clark made the comments Sunday morning on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Moderator Bob Schieffer asked Clark to clarify comments he made in a recent interview with the Huffington Post in which he called McCain “untested and untried.”

Clark said he was referring to McCain’s lack of experience in setting national security measures.

“I certainly honour his service as a prisoner of war,” Clark said.

“He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces as a prisoner of war.

“And he has travelled all over the world.

“But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall.

“He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, ‘I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not.'”

When Schieffer countered that Obama had none of these experiences, nor had he “ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down,” Clark countered, saying, “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.”

The McCain campaign has spent much of its time focusing on the five years the Arizona Senator spent as a prisoner of war after being shot down in Vietnam.

This isn’t the first time Clark has surprised military and conservative circles.

The retired general raised eyebrows when he appeared on the cover of gay magazine The Advocate during his failed 2004 bid for President.

“If Barack Obama wants to question John McCain’s service to his country, he should have the guts to do it himself and not hide behind his campaign surrogates,” retired Admiral Leighton “Snuffy” Smith said in a statement obtained by CNN.

“If he expects the American people to believe his pledges about a new kind of politics, Barack Obama has a responsibility to condemn these attacks.”

© 2008; All Rights Reserved.

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